Andrew Spurgeon, Langland ECD, reflects on what it took to win the IPA Best of Health Awards 'Best of Show' with IDIS.
Let’s set the award winning work aside for a moment, and just focus on what we at Langland consider to be ‘good’ work.
We believe that good work is work that serves a purpose. It’s derived from real issues in the real world, and when that world is healthcare, those issues are often pressing and urgent.
Do it right, and the communication you make in this often conservative and highly regulated space can, quite literally, mean the difference between life and death (think about that the next time you start your day with a cornflakes brief).
Day to day, we’re simply concerned with making good work. That’s it.
Nobody at Langland sets out to make their project ‘award winning,’ but there’s a high degree of confidence that if we do the right thing, those accolades may follow. We know this based on past experience. Case in point, Langland has won Best of Show at the IPA Best of Health Awards five times in the past six years. That is a remarkable creative performance, and one that we are rightly proud of.
Our ability to turn complex problems into simple and elegant solutions has marked the agency out. Langland is distinctive in a category dogged by an over-reliance on rational thought and weak production values. That last sentence perhaps reveals all you need to know about how to ‘do a Langland.’
Move your brands into a more emotional space, apply an un-Godly amount of executional polish and be surprised as to how good ‘healthcare’ can be.
There. It’s that simple. Well almost, because if it were everyone would be doing it. We get the results we do, because sitting alongside our internal mantra of simplicity, surprise and empathy is a virtual army of craftspeople. Yes, there are those you would imagine – the writers, art directors and designers. We have the best people in this business poring over every brief. I’m sure you wouldn’t expect anything less from the world’s most creatively awarded healthcare advertising agency. But, honestly, that’s only half the story.
Maybe it’s our independence and team spirit, or maybe it’s just that we’re more honest about what it takes to make work ‘good’. Whatever it is, at Langland we believe that our entire team plays a critical role in returning the kind of award winning achievements we enjoy.
That’s the office support people that make our clients and partners feel looked after, through to the project managers and account people that are absolutely instrumental in helping us take creative leaps of faith.
And I wouldn’t stop there. Every one of Langland’s IPA Best of Health award winners has benefited greatly from the attention of some of the industry's brightest stars; photographers, directors, animators, illustrators and digital production companies. The list literally goes on and on, because we absolutely know where our expertise stops, and the value our production partners brings starts.
Sure, there are projects that remain in-house, but we will not deny the fact that adding a new perspective to the idea often ends up with work that is fresher, more surprising.
IDIS, our big winner this year is a good example. Conceptually excellent (and thoroughly branded), it has benefited from a veritable love-fest from those previously mentioned. And it shows. This work has won big worldwide at all of the major industry shows, and I’ll tell you why.
It’s that often-missing factor, the thing most critical to making the best work. It’s a great client. Not a good one, a bloody great one. A client who wants to challenge conventions and produce work that allows for a significant shift in brand performance. These clients will sometimes appear unexpectedly, ready to change the world (call us please if you’re reading this). More often than not though, good clients become great through the interactions they have with the agency.
Our creative track record helps enormously, of course. Giving the people we work with a level of reassurance that more provocative work yields better business results. But it’s the relationship that counts for everything. Those clients, happy and comfortable to become a part of the gang are the same clients that seem to find themselves most frequently onstage. Standing alongside their agency counterparts, receiving the recognition and rewards they deserve for making the (healthcare communications) world just that bit more interesting.
If we just bring our attention back to IDIS for a moment, here’s how that ‘gang’ organised itself; great idea (said that already), sponsored by a great client (thank you Richard). Langland commissioned the absolutely outstanding B-Reel as its production partner, who in-turn connected us with Elizabeth Stopford – BAFTA award winning documentary filmmaker.
Account handling? Well, the Global Business Unit Director in question travelled with the production team. Smoothing over significant challenges in both India and China, representing the client’s interests at every point as they couldn’t attend shoot days in person.
Back at the office, budgets were managed by our account handling and finance teams, as designers built parts of the campaign with images sent through by the art director. Who, incidentally, shot a whole bunch of reportage images himself whilst overseeing the film content. That’s pretty much how it worked, and I’ve left lots of people out.
So what I’m driving at is that making good work is a team game. It includes agency, client and a variety of outside partners. The key thing is to share ambition and not lose sight of what’s important.
And, trust me, it’s a focus that is rarely centered on winning awards.
Andrew Spurgeon is ECD at Langland.
Read up on how Martin Percy and UNIT9 won 'Best of Show' too for Lifesaver.
See who else won at the 2014 IPA Best of Health Awards and our Brazilian themed photos!
Last updated 10/07/2014